#16-144

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This research (the SUPER-POWR trial: Sustained Use of Protein Extends Renewal: Protein Optimization in Women Enables Results) was conducted to explore the impact of a diet rich in high quality protein, including generous amounts of lean pork, on long-term outcomes related to physical function in obese older black and white women following an obesity reduction treatment. This was a small pilot study, enrolling 25 older (≥60 years of age) women who were obese and functionally limited; 64% of the women were African American, due to intentional over-sampling. The specific objectives of the study were to compare a Control (RDA-level protein) weight loss diet with a diet including generous high quality protein at every meal of the day (Protein group) and to follow changes in body weight, body composition and function, as well as markers of renal function and glucose levels, over 9 months in these two groups. The results of this study are pending a full statistical analysis but some descriptive information is available now. The average weight loss achieved during the trial was 5.7 kg (5.9%) at 6 months; however, mean weight loss was only 2.9% at 9 months. Most of weight loss was as fat, with body fat (on average) reduced by about 4 kg in controls and 5.2 kg in the protein group at the 6-month point. Lean mass effects were slight in both groups (loss of < 1 kg). No detrimental changes in renal function were encountered during the trial. To date, the main lessons of the trial to date are: (1) Following a higher protein diet with lean pork consumed twice daily is feasible, acceptable and beneficial for obese older women, both black and white. (2) Despite high motivation and strong dietitian support, many older women struggle in their efforts to reduce obesity. (3) Our hypothesis that extending the intervention duration would boost weight loss was not confirmed, at least not in this very small cohort. On average, weight loss did not improve between 6 and 9 months in either group. (4) Although amount of weight loss fell short of the goal for many participants, they nonetheless experienced strongly beneficial changes in their body composition (decrease in percent body fat). Additionally, this study allows us the opportunity to further investigate an important area of interest for the National Pork Board, namely racial disparities. An important next step is to combine the SUPER POWR data with data from POWR UP and analyze for racial disparities in a sample with greater power. This study, along with the parent study (POWR-UP) is the first trial of enhanced protein (30 grams protein per meal) using pork as the protein source to preserve muscle during a weight loss intervention. The successful confirmation of feasibility demonstrates the very high acceptance of pork in the diets of women following obesity reduction treatments, including the target population of African American women.

Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD
Duke University School of Medicine
bales001 @mc.duke.edu